Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ecofest times two shows Barrie's going Green even faster

Written for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner, where a slightly revised version was printed under the title "Ecofest is expanding by leaps and bounds"

Although the Green movement is growing rapidly, especially in Barrie, it is rare for it to double in a single year. Yet that’s the story of Ecofest – founded only last year, it will be more than double in 2011, with extended hours over two days, June 11 & 12, on an expanded space at Heritage Park.

It’s a partnership with the City of Barrie, who is eager to showcase their sustainability programs from transportation and waste reduction to energy and water conservation. Barrie's Strategy & Economic Development Office is weighing in this year with thoughts of building Barrie's reputation as a place to build and grow in the new "green" economy.

Have you something you no longer need, and would like to swap? The City is transitioning “Free Goods Exchange Day” from curbsides city-wide to one central location: Ecofest. Leave an item or take an item, get those goods back into use. There is no charge, and eager traders can get a head start by pre-registering items on the Ecofest website.

Rudy Westerneng of GreenGo Recycling will bring his truck to pick up leftover e-waste, so now is your chance to clean out your attic or garage of old electrical devices.

The marketplace is also expanding. Next to the free exchange will be a special new free-display area exclusively for selling hand-made or repurposed items.

Ecofest is adopting a new focus on food, anchored around a fully-licensed outdoor patio-style café hosted by Ryan Traversy and At-the-Five Resto-lounge, featuring live cooking demos. You will find organic wines and foods, locally-grown produce, and fresh baked goods. There are still opportunities for food vendors to join in, and for sponsors to get their message of support to attendees.

Michelle Finnamore of Advantage Home Staging is going to bring a modular home and assemble it onsite, then stage it in the greenest fashion. You’ll be able to see eco-friendly options for décor, paint, insulation, water conservation, and green roofs and attend workshops inside the home itself.

As exemplified by Ecofest, today’s Green movement is characterized by positive over negative, being a celebration of everything sustainable, healthy, or “green”. Arts & culture are the best messengers for environmental change, so we invite all arts and culture organizations, artists, musicians, performers to get in contact via the website.

But the festival is inclusive of the whole community and open to all, and there is still time for vendors to get the early bird rate, but only until January 30th. Act now and get 40% off, which means two longer days for less than the price of one day last year.

For more information or to sign up as an artist, vendor, or trader, please visit

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is an educator, father, volunteer, and politician.

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